Expert: Drug overdoses on the rise during COVID-19 pandemic


It’s a disaster that has first responders going door to door, reaching out to individuals who have been given a second likelihood at life after struggling a drug overdose.

HOUSTON — Opioid overdoses have reached an all-time excessive in Houston, in keeping with an knowledgeable who tracks them. He mentioned if one thing doesn’t change, the variety of deaths may double subsequent 12 months.

It’s a disaster that has first responders going door to door, reaching out to individuals who have been given a second likelihood at life after struggling a drug overdose.

They’re referred to as HEROES, members of the Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System, who deal with, counsel and help addicts by a restoration program.

Dr. James Langabeer, UT Well being Professor of Emergency Medication and Biomedical Informatics, launched it three years after noticing a substantial improve in calls to first responders for heroin overdoses.

He mentioned because the begin of the pandemic, it has gotten worse. 

“The expansion is unbelievable,” Langabeer mentioned.

Langabeer mentioned in 2018, a median of 60 911 calls every month had been associated to opioid abuse. In 2019, that elevated to 80. This 12 months it’s as much as a median of 90 calls a month. That’s a 50 p.c improve over three years.

“Beginning in Could, after which positively in June, we hit an all-time excessive,” Langabeer mentioned.

He mentioned the variety of folks dying from substance abuse is much more trigger for alarm.

In 2019, 330 within the Higher Houston space died of opioid overdoses.

Langabeer predicted a ten p.c progress this 12 months. However, he mentioned, by September there have been already 366 deaths on file. 

“We’ve got so many individuals proper now which can be hurting, which have psychological well being points due to COVID and are creating all types of dependancy,” Langabeer mentioned.

He’s anticipating it’s going to solely worsen earlier than the 12 months is up.

“Relying how dangerous COVID will get, , this may very well be greater than 475 deaths within the Houston space alone from opioid solely overdoses,” Langabeer mentioned.

Dr. Langabeer predicts 2021 may very well be considerably worse, with 600 to 700 overdose deaths. He mentioned this system wants extra docs, nurse practitioners and counselors to assist attain extra folks. There’s a listing of job openings on the HEROES website.




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